Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Abstracted and Distracted!

Well, it's been a while again but I have been painting.  Most of it has been Christmas Cards for a forum I belong to so can't show those until they've been received by the recipients, of course.

I've also been working on a request from my dear daughter that was so totally out of my league that I felt I should ask her to get another artist!

Seriously, she has just finished remodeling her living room, kitchen, entry and bathrooms and wanted an abstract painting for the living room - a large abstract painting!

If you've paid any attention to my blog and the paintings I've posted, you know that most are relatively small paintings and about as far from abstract as you can get.  Plus, my daughter and I are pretty far apart when it comes to liking certain things.

For instance, I've never felt that she really liked any of the art I've done so was really surprised that she asked me to do a painting for her in the first place.  Then I was totally surprised when she said she loved what I'd done.

Thank God - literally - as I'd really prayed for guidance in the execution of the painting!

Anyway, here it is - not my usual style at all so hope you like it (my ever diplomatic DH said it 'grows on you').  It may not match her sofa but I do think it will look good in her living room!

It's 3feet by 2 feet, acrylic on cradled panels.

Hope to post more in the coming weeks but you know how crazy it always gets around the holidays!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

New Paintings

I've been painting up a storm lately, actually painting through two storms (Florence and Michael) when I was able, lol. 

It seems I'm either inspired to paint or not and here lately, I've been inspired.  These next three paintings were all done in oils - either alkyd oil or water soluble oil.  I like both of them and use either depending on the situation :  alkyd oil if I need fast drying or water soluble oil if I want to clean up without harsh solvents.

Anyway, here are some paintings I've recently finished:

 The calf above was painted with alkyd oils and is my first attempt at a cow, except a sort of cartoonish dairy cow I did some time ago.  This is 6x8 inches on an AlumaCorp panel.  It's prepped as I described in an earlier post and I'm thinking of adding some kind of background.

The horse was also painted on a 6x8" AlumaCorp panel but I added gesso before starting the painting to help reduce the glare.  I was amazed that even with a couple of coats of gesso, the panel still had a lovely glow.  This painting was done with water soluble oil and may look a bit splotchy as it isn't dry yet.

 This last painting was done for a challenge in a painting forum I belong to.  The challenge was to paint leaves.  Most everyone is doing fall leaves but oranges and bright yellows aren't my favorite colors so I chose this apple on a tree.  This was also somewhat of an experiment to try Julie Ford Oliver's fracturing technique.

Let's just say that a Julie Ford Oliver I'm not!  But there are aspects that I like - several leaf shapes showed up by accident and that was certainly a plus.

I have more paintings waiting to be painted so hope to see you back here again soon.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Modern Fox

I finally finished the modern fox I was carving in wood.  Or maybe I just stopped working on it!  Actually, the biggest time spent working on it was sanding.  This style sort of demanded that the finish be smooth instead of letting the carving marks show.

I put a 'barely there' finish on it that I often use for wooden frames.  This consists of half odorless thinner, half linseed oil and a dab of oil paint in the color I wanted.  In this case, it was a tiny amount of burnt sienna with the tiniest dab of bright red.  I wanted this mixture to just tint the wood instead of it being an opaque, totally covering finish.  With this finish, the wood grain shows through which I thought suited this carving.

Wood carving is good for a change of pace that helps charge the artistic atoms!  It uses a different part of the brain and it's sometimes a struggle to switch from 2-D thinking to 3-D but I think this 3-D 'practice' helps me paint better 2-D images.

I may not ever be a great wood carver but I enjoy it; it's a great stress reliever in a different way from painting and helps keep me off the streets!  lol

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

AlumaCorp Support Preparation

I've recently been experimenting with AlumaCorp aluminum painting panels. The ones I've bought have been unprimed so I thought I'd let you know what I do to prepare them for painting with oil.

I might note that the main objective in my experimenting thus far was to make the panel durable while still enabling the aluminum background to show.  Otherwise, the panels don't have to be primed.  You can see the results of the first attempt of painting on a panel primed with this method with the little hummingbird I posted HERE.

Here is the panel as I received it and the process I followed for the hummingbird panel as well as another painting which I'll show in a moment:

If you click on the photos above to enlarge, you'll see some information about the panel and that the panels have some very sharp edges!  I have not received any panel that did not need these edges filed off for safety's sake!

So, the first step is remove the protective paper on the side you want to use then take a file or some sandpaper and file or sand the edges only.  You don't want to mess up the actual surface of the panel by careless sanding.  Fortunately, it only takes a couple of swipes to blunt the edges.  This step is crucial to help save both skin and brushes!

 You may need to scuff the surface of the panel just a little to insure adhesion of your primer.  Some steel wool is probably all you'll need but be gentle with it!

After scuffing the surface, clean well with alcohol to remove any grease or fingerprints and handle the panel carefully from now on.

If you want the aluminum finish to show through your painting, I recommend Golden's GAC 100 which is a clear sealer medium for many surfaces.  I used 2 coats letting it dry thoroughly between coats.  I also used a roller and rolled the medium on in one direction (say, vertically), let dry, then rolled the second coat at right angles (horizontally).

After priming, let the panel dry for several days as per directions on the GAC 100 container.

I had fun painting the hummingbird and like the AlumaCorp panels a lot.  However, I wanted to see how the different mediums I use behaved on the panels.

This unfinished painting is an AlumaCorp panel prepared as I explained above but I used Genesis Heat Set oils on it and I don't think the panel is a good choice for these paints. 

The panels are very thin pieces of aluminum sandwiched between some kind of foamcore.  While I'm sure the aluminum can take the heat needed for the Genesis paints, the foam doesn't do so well with it.  The panel warped with the first heating and smelled awful!  Not only that, the paint crackled.  If you click on the photo to enlarge, you should be able to see what I mean by looking at the ears.

At this point, I decided to just quit working on this particular painting.  I'm sure the warping and smell was due to the foamcore center of the panel.  I'm not sure whether the crackling was due to the heat, the GAC 100 or the fact that the panel warped. 

One other thing I've found is that the glare from the aluminum makes it very difficult to see the overall painting as you work.  I was working during hurricane Florence when the days were very gloomy.  I had studio lights on with daylight bulbs and it could be that those lights weren't aimed in a way conducive to painting on the aluminum.  They didn't shine directly on the surface but whatever the cause, I found this painting very hard to see because of the glare and reflecting of the surface.

These are just my thoughts on using the panels so far.  I like a solid surface and don't like the bounce of most canvas so these panels are great for that.  I think in the future I'll either buy preprimed panels or use a colored gesso to prime and won't even try to use the bare metal as part of the painting.  I have heard that some artists scratch through the paint and primer to reveal the metal as accents in the painting and that might be a experiment for a future painting.

As to whether I use these panels on a regular basis, it will be based on cost comparisons with other supports, particularly birch or hardboard.  Since I've just gotten small samples at minimal cost to date, I'll do the comparisons when I need supports for larger paintings at a later date.

If you have any questions, I'll try to answer if you leave me a comment below!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


crow in watercolor on Fluid hot-pressed paper - copyright Jan Gibson

Crows really intrigue  me and I find them very inventive and smart as well as numerous around here!  I've been painting them in different poses and think I've begun to build my mental muscle memory so it's a bit easier to paint them now.

However, I recently got an order which included some Fluid brand watercolor samples which I used for the above crow.  Huge mistake as I fought the paper the whole time.

Hot-pressed watercolor paper is my usual when I use watercolors but this brand did not perform like any other I've used.  I did try some colored pencil on it and it seemed to work well for that.  Too bad I donated all my quality colored pencils to our local high school!  But, good thing I only got 3 sheets of the paper to try!

And here is another watercolor crow:

crow in watercolor on Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper - copyright Jan Gibson
This crow was painted before the first one and was a fun learning experience.  However, I decided the background was too intense and tried to soften it a bit and ruined the painting!  I think the 'bones' of the painting work though and may eventually repaint it with gouache.

Or maybe not as I usually don't like to mess with a painting once I've done it once!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Hummingbird on AlumaComp Painting Panel

About this time last year I got some samples of AlumaComp aluminum painting panels at the Jerry's Artarama 'Art of the Carolinas' trade show.    I didn't quite know what to do with them at the time so I've only recently started painting on them.

First I tried using casein with Liquitex clear gesso.  I couldn't finish the painting.  I'm not sure whether it was the casein or the Liquitex gesso as I'm not fond of either!

I did want to paint so the aluminum background would show so I recently read that Golden's GAC 100 would work as a clear surface treatment.  As you can see in the following photo, it's perfect for preserving the look of the aluminum background.

Here is a painting of one of our little hummingbirds in the early morning light waiting for its turn at the nectar feeder.

Alkyd Oil on Aluminum Panel - 6x8 inches

I really like this panel when used with oil paint but I think the metallic background is a bit less effective with these hummingbird colors.  This is a female Ruby Throated hummingbird although the lighting makes it look like another species.  Also, she was all fluffed up while you usually see the birds with their feathers all neatly sleeked back and groomed.

Art of the Carolinas is coming up again in November and I may just have to get some more of these panels or mail order even sooner!  It's so nice when a new support (& new toy) works as well as you'd hoped!

Monday, August 13, 2018

High Seas And Ground Clutter

I've been really trying to be disciplined and paint every day but in spite of the best intentions, it doesn't always happen.

But I've made tiny inroads for the past week or so and painted a seascape for my niece and a basket of tomatoes from our garden.

The seascape is acrylic on board and the basket of tomatoes (I call it Basket of Summer) is gouache on Arches watercolor paper. 

The basket of tomatoes was for a challenge at an art group I belong to and isn't as finished as I'd like.  I hope to paint it again in the future though.

I'm still plugging away at an oil painting of a fox and another seascape so look for updates in the near future!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Ain't It Funny How Time Just Slips Away

I was jolted out of complacency when my friend, Sue, from the Pencilpix blog emailed to ask if I'd been painting.  Well, I've done nothing but for the past few months but just haven't shown any on my blog!  Sue recommended that I remedy that so here are just a few of the paintings I've done recently:

The first one is a quick painting of my Dad who said he didn't want a birthday gift but would really like one of my wildlife cards.  Well, I figured there wasn't anything wilder than him even at the age of 95!  He was very pleased even if line and wash & especially portraits aren't my usual 'thing'.

The second two paintings are for challenges at a painting forum I belong to.  I was especially pleased with the ice cream cone as I usually have a hard time drawing hands/fingers but this came out better than usual.
 This bear is a painting I've worked on for nearly a year!  The medium is casein and even though I've really tried to like it, it's impossible for me to work with.  This painting was such a struggle that when I finished it, I bundled up the casein paints and donated them to our local high school art department!
 This crow is an acrylic underpainting that I did with the intention of glazing with oil over the top.  However, I had a bunch of people tell me to leave it alone.  There were two exceptions to this chorus though, including my husband and an oil painter whose opinion I value so I haven't totally decided what to do with it yet.

If you're a painter yourself, you know the inner argument where part of you wants to be done with it and another part of you wants to go with the original plan but worry about messing up what might be a good thing!
This last one of the eagle is a horrible photo as it was taken with my cell phone in really gloomy light as we've had rain during most of the month of July!!!  Suffice it to say it looks better in person.  It's gouache on board.

These are not all of the paintings I've done and I'm still working on several at the moment.  One, a fox, another crow and a couple of seascapes.  One of the seascapes is nearly finished but since this post is image intensive, I'll save some for another day!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Oh, Look, Another Bird!

I finished another bird in the woodcarving group and like this one a whole lot better than the first one I carved.  This one was sort of my own design although from a free vector from a public domain photo site I occasionally use.  I still have to put some sort of finish on it but I decided not to paint it.  If I wanted a painted bird, I'd do it on paper or canvas, right?

I think that's it for birds, at least for the time being.  One of these days, I'd like to carve a sandpiper, heron or egret but in the meantime, I have a fox on-board for the next project.  It's quite a bit larger than either of the birds (about 18" long) so wish me success!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Chickadee Painting Demo

Where does the time go?  Again, I apologize for the time between blog posts but somehow, time just gets away!  As kids, we'd used to complain that we were bored or had nothing to do and the day would just drag by.  My grandmother always used to say 'just wait til you get older!'  My grandmother was a very wise woman!

Anyway, the demo/paint-along of the chickadee went really well and the class actually finished in an hour instead of the two we thought it would take.  Here is a photo of the event and, as you can see, the participants were lively, fun and very good for first time painters!  Oh, that's me in the back row next to the gentleman in the light blue shirt.

photo courtesy of, and copyright to, Alan Russo
All of the participants were great sports and all said they'd had a good time.  Since we had some time leftover, I was asked to demonstrate how to make a tree with some leaves.  We were using cheap Canson watercolor paper and really cheap gouache but those who painted the tree still did really well.

Even though I was very nervous and sort of scared, the COA still asked me if I would do another demo and/or paint-along in the future.  I wasn't sure but think it would be fun now that I know the ropes a bit better!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Carving Out Time

Well today was another carving group and I started another bird.  I like birds and this one is kind of special as I modified a public domain vector from a free website to make my own carving pattern.  Plus, my actual chosen project from the bin at the group is a large fox which I just didn't have the room or the inclination to work on today!

I had to take in the paintings for the exhibit and frankly, after carrying in a couple of boxes of paintings (11 of them), I didn't want to try to tuck a heavy, 18" long fox under my arm when the block for the little bird and all my supplies fit neatly into my purse!

Here's what I accomplished today after starting with a small rectangular block of wood.  This bird is actually going faster than the first one but I've also done quite a bit of 'carving' on my left hand! (Memo to self - take a supply of band-aids!):

It doesn't look like much but has honestly come a long way from the original block of wood. I don't know when I'll get to work on it but if I find time, it wouldn't surprise me to have it done before the next group session.  Oh, and I filled the crack in the first bird but it isn't dry yet so don't know how it will finish.  I wanted to use a nice oil but may end up painting it to conceal the patch of the crack.

Will keep you posted!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Paint-Along

Carolina Chickadee - gouache on paper

 I was asked to do a demo/paint-along for our local senior center and have been trying different subjects that should be easy enough for a total beginner to paint.  The little Carolina Chickadee above is the subject I chose. 

The ref photo came from a friend but has been simplified so much that no one would recognize it.  As a realistic painter, simplifing to make the subject easier for a beginner to paint was the most challenging part of the demo preparation!

There is to be a minimum of paint so it was also necessary to pick a subject that uses few colors and no mixing,  That means using black straight from the tube when I'd ordinarily mix my own or at least add blue or violet to the tube color.  But I'm hoping the participants will be able to paint something they're proud to take home.

Monday, February 19, 2018

More Spring and a Painting!

Here's a little more taste of Spring as the daffodils have gone crazy blooming!  Our temperatures have been up and down and the sun has been in and out!  The photo of the daffies was taken on a gloomy day but still hope they're a cheerful sight for those of you tired of winter!

My most recent casein painting was of a daffodil in a glass globe and is probably the biggest reason why I decided casein wasn't for me.  The paint handled much like acrylic which is the least favorite medium I've ever tried.  No matter what I did, I couldn't get the results I wanted - making the flower appear inside the globe!

This is on clayboard (which may be why I didn't like painting with the casein) and is only about 5X5 inches square.  I bought the clayboard because several people had said it was the ideal surface for casein.  I only got 3 of the small boards so it wasn't a complete waste and I'm sure I can use the rest for other media.  I think too, that other people use different painting methods and have different styles than I do which may make it work great for them. 

But, isn't that what art is all about?  Finding the medium, the support and the style that works for you, the artist?  So, maybe casein will become a favorite medium with the right support - hope so as I've invested a fair amount into paint!  Still have to finish a couple of paintings I started with casein and who knows from there!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

February - the Love Month

Since February is the traditional month of love, I thought I'd post a small painting of some Valentine cookies.  Yes, I know I've missed the traditional day of love but hope the warm feelings are still present!

This is watercolor on paper done for a challenge in an art group I belong to.  It was something of a quickie but time has been limited lately.  It was really nice to get the old brushes wet though and I hope you enjoy a sweet treat today!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Not All Is Painted

I think I've mentioned a time or two about how I get bored with a medium and like to switch it up now and then.  Add that to being an art supply junkie and I'm often enticed to try anything.

A girlfriend wanted to me go to a wood carving group with her and I needed very little encouragement to do it - as a matter of fact, I bought some cheap wood carving tools quite some time ago and did my best to carve a little Santa Christmas tree ornament.

So after about 3 weeks (3 days of 3 hours each once a week), I've finally finished a little bird I started on day one.  One of the group gave me a chunk of wood and I drew my bird on it and started carving.  It's mostly a group where everyone does their own thing but everyone is friendly and helpful.

This was carved totally from scratch while most carvings start from the basic shape cut out with a band or scroll saw.  I stopped at this point because a crack appeared and the wood started chipping out.  I was pretty pleased with the result though.  I'll let you all judge if I should continue the group!

The above photo was from last week.

This is as far as I wanted to take it.  See the crack?  It caused large chunks to chip out while I was carving the wings.

Wood carving is very relaxing but not something you can comfortably do while watching tv.  It's best to watch what you're doing instead of the tv screen.  Plus, the mess is horrendous!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

At Last -----

I guess the title of this blog post has sort of a double meaning.  I was actually thinking that spring is on the way but then realized how long it's been since I've posted!

First let me apologize for the lack of posts in the last few months!  Then let me share some photos on the advent of spring in our area!

Spring is my favorite season so I'm always glad to find even subtle signs of it.  There are so many today that I'm beyond thrilled.  Of course, I'm also thrilled with the 72.2 degree temperature outside that prompted me to go out and take the photographs!

 Above is a camellia from a bush on the north side of our front yard.  Usually the buds wouldn't be this large at this time of the year but I even saw a couple of burnt flowers that bloomed too soon and got nipped by frost.

Next are a few daffodils that are just on the verge of blooming.  Of course, the daffies are always early and even a moderate frost doesn't bother them too much.  These happen to be on the south side of the house and near the brick foundation so I imagine it's even warmer for them there.  However, the daffodils in the yard also have buds.

Below is a Lenten Rose just about to bloom!  I so enjoy these flowers as they seem to bloom in February no matter the weather and they keep their beautiful display for weeks and weeks!

And below is what the locals call 'Fresh Breath of Spring' but I think the correct name is 'Winter Honeysuckle'.  It's a delightful shrub whose flowers are not only welcome at this time of the year but are as fragrant as summer honeysuckle.

And last but certainly not least are the little violas that spring up EVERYWHERE about now.  To me, they're the definite harbinger of spring!

For any of you who have visited only to find the lights off and the blog cold and dark, I apologize but I'll tell you that I have been painting but nothing that's really worth sharing.  I've been playing with casein but I'm pretty sure it's not the medium for me.  It just doesn't fit my way of working like other mediums do no matter how I wish it did.  I greatly admire another artist who paints wonderful things in casein.  You should check out Mary's work HERE.

She suggested devoting a month or two or three to painting in casein exclusively before making up your mind about it and I have pretty much done that.  Unfortunately, the results are too embarrassing to show!  I do have a couple of paintings that I got frustrated with and put aside that I do want to finish though and will be showing those when completed.

In the meantime, hope it won't be so long between blog posts from now on.